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Lecture 12 Sport, Spectacle, and the Greek Empire: Philip II, Alexander the Great, and the
Hellenistic Era
Alexander the Great, House of the Faun, Pompeii
Athletics and Spectacle in the Age of Greek Empires
● How do the changes in Greek history impact the performance and social significance
of ancient Greek sport in the age of Macedonian Kings and later Hellenistic period?
● How do changes in the political structures of Greece impact the performance and
social significance of Greek sport?
● How does sport relate to cultural identity during this period of historical transition?
Greece After the Peloponnesian War
● Peloponnesian War (Athens vs. Sparta): 431-404 BCE
● 404-403 BCE Thirty Tyrants in Athens
● 403- 371 BCE Spartan Hegemony
● 371 BCE- Sparta’s collapse:
● Number of Spartan Citizens greatly reduced:
● 479 BCE~ 9,000 Spartiates; 371 BCE~ 1400 Spartiates.
○ (relied heavily on Spartan allies and Persians to retain rule)
● - Battle of Leuctra: Sparta marches against city-state of Thebes (only 700 Spartiates
and many allies)
○ Thebes defeats Sparta, over 400 Spartiates dead. (300 survivors who fled
were allowed to keep citizenship)
● Thebes marches on Sparta with 40,000 hoplites and frees Messenian helots.
● 370-360 BCE: Sparta loses power: general anarchy among Greek city states
Philip II of Macedon (historical background)
359 BCE Philip II became King of Macedon after intense rivalries over kingship.
○ As a boy, Philip II was sent to Thebes as “hostage” in exchange for Thebes’
support of Alexander II (Philip II’s brother) as King of Macedon
■ Was there in a friendly way but also with potential to danger
Philip II learned Greek ways and Greek warfare tactics (and improved upon them)
Alexander II was murdered, more rivalry for Kingship of Macedon ensued.
Eventually, Macedonian army declared Philip II King.
Philip II of Macedon: Conquest through Strategy (historical background)
● Philip II gained Athens as an Ally○ Athens sends hoplites to help rivals of Philip II.
○ Philip wins, but sends Athenian hoplites home, even gives them $$!
○ Captured Athenian colony of Amphipolis, returned it to Athens and swore to
protect it.
○ When Athens was engaged in war with its own allies, Philip II re-captured
○ He is both concurring and being friendly to Athens- not making them an enemy
● Philip II helped the Amphictyonic League in the 3rd Sacred War (Phocian War) to
restore Delphi to the Delphians.
○ Philip becomes delegate for the Amphictyonic League.
○ Introduces himself into Greek politics
○ Not clear if he is hostile or helpful to the Greek city states
● Philip uses his political power with the Amphictyonic League and eventually conquers
most of Greece and created the “League of Corinth”
○ Not clear that he has a dictatorship, title of the league of Corinth makes it
seems more democratic
● Philip takes up model of “Panhellenism” as a claim to avenge Persian invasion of
● 336 BCE Philip is murdered by one of his guards who was also a former lover.
Macedonians Using Sport to establish “Greekness”
Early evidence of Macedonians in Olympic Games:
- Alexander I, King of Macedon (498-454 BCE) was prevented from competing in the
Olympic Games because non-Greeks were not allowed to participate.
- Alexander I proved his descent from Argos and apparently tied for 1st place in the
stadion foot race.
King Archelaus I 413-399 BCE: Olympic and Pythian Chariot Race victor 408 BCE)
Philip II was victor at Olympia
Keles 356 BCE
Tethrippon in 352, 348 BCE
(perhaps a synoris victory at Delphi)
Defining “Greekness”
Herodotus, The Histories 8.144
[Athenian response to a Spartan Embassy not to join the Persians during the Persian War]
For there are many great reasons why we should not do this ( join the Persians), even if
we so desired; first and foremost, the burning and destruction of the adornments and
temples of our gods, whom we are constrained to avenge to the utmost rather than
make pacts with the perpetrator of these things, and next the kinship of all Greeks in
blood and speech, and the shrines of gods and the sacrifices that we have in
common, and the likeness of our way of life, to all of which it would not befit the
Athenians to be false.
The “Greekness” of Alexander I
Herodotus 5.22:
“Now that these descendants of Perdiccas are Greeks, as they themselves say, I
myself chance to know and will prove it in the later part of my history. Furthermore, the
Hellenodikai who manage the contest at Olympia determined that it is so, [2] for when
Alexander chose to contend and entered the lists for that purpose, the Greeks who
were to run against him wanted to bar him from the race, saying that the contest
should be for Greeks and not for foreigners. Alexander, however, proving himself to be
an Argive, was judged to be a Greek. He accordingly competed in the furlong race
and tied for first place. This, then, is approximately what happened.”
Other examples of Commemorating Wealth, Power, and performing “Greekness” at
Panhellenic Festivals
● 5th century BCE Sicilian Tyrants commemorated victories through praise poems
(Pindar) and Victory monuments (Charioteer at Delphi, Tripod
● Philip commemorated his victory with coinage depicting his victories
Polyzalos dedication, Delphi 478 or 474 BCE
Tripod dedication:
“I declare that Gelon, Hieron, Polyzalos, and Thrasyboulos, the children of Deinomenes,
dedicated the tripods having conquered barbarian races, and provided a great hand of
alliance towards freedom for the Greeks”
Further Macedonian Performances of “Greekness” in the Panhellenic Games
● King Archelaus I 413-399 BCE: Olympic and Pythian Chariot Race victor 408 BCE)
● Philip II was victor at Olympia
● Keles 356 BCE
● Tethrippon in 352, 348 BCE
● (perhaps a synoris victory at Delphi)
Philip II: Commemorating Wealth, Power, and “Greekness”
Philip commemorated his victory with coinage depicting his victories
Coin for Philip II’s Keles Victory 356 BCE
Coin for Philip II’s Tethrippon Victory
Philippeion: Establishing Heroic Status at Olympia (337-335 BCE)
Because Olympia is a Panhellenic Site, the Philippeion is meant to commemorate
Philip II uniting Greece.
2. Positioned beside the Pelopion (Shrine of Pelops), Philip II seems to indicate that he
was also worthy of heroized status as a “King of Greece”
Alexander III of Macedon: Alexander the Great (historical background)
● 336 BCE- Alexander III takes the throne
● League of Corinth declares Alexander general against Persia after the death of Philip
● 335 BCE – In Alexander’s absence, Athens and Thebes revolt against Macedonian
● Alexander returns and completely destroys the city of Thebes (except for the house of
● Decides not to avenge Persia, but to rule over the Persian Empire (This
requires official forms of legitimation by the Persians; i.e. marrying into
the royal family)
● Alexander’s conquest of Persia: 334-330 BCE (historical background)
334 BCE Battle of Granicus - Alexander defeats Darius
● 333 Battle of Issus- Alexander defeats Darius (captures the family of
Darius III)
● 332 siege of Tyre, takes Gaza
● 331 Found Alexandria in Egypt (New Cultural Center of Mediterranean)
● 331 BCE- Battle of Gaugamela (decisive victory)
● Alexander captures Babylon, Susa, and the Persian capital of
Persepolis (which he subsequently burned to the ground)
● Darius III was murdered by a Persian traitor Bessus.
● Alexander has Bessus killed (in a very gruesome manner), gives a royal funeral for
Darius III, and in so doing, secured his position as ruler over Persia
Ruins of Royal Hall of Darius and Xerxes in Persepolis
Alexander’s War in India and Last Days, 327 -323 BCE
● Alexander invades India during monsoon season (big mistake – weakens his forces
● Wins Battle of Hydaspes (river) against King Porus (of the Paurava Kingdom)
● Mutiny at River Hyphasis has him turn the campaign back towards Mesopotamia by
way of the Indus River and Persian Gulf.
● Not enough ships to transport allof his men, so he traveled through the Gedrosian
Desert (only 25,000 survivors of 85,000 )
● Was preparing for an Arabian Campaign
● In 323, after several nights of celebration in Perepolis, Alexander died (perhaps of
alcohol poisoning).
● To whom would he leave his Empire? “To the Strongest”
Spectacle over Sport in the Reign of Alexander the Great
● Philip used Panhellenic competitions to establish “Greekness”
● Alexander the Great was “anti-athletics”:
● Plutarch Life of Alexander, 4.5
● For it was neither every kind of fame nor fame from every source that he courted, as
Philip did, who plumed himself like a sophist on the power of his oratory, and took
care to have the victories of his chariots at Olympia engraved upon his coins; nay,
when those about him inquired whether he would be willing to contend in the foot
race at the Olympic games, since he was swift of foot, ‘Yes,’ said he, ‘if I could have
kings as my competitors.’
Alexander as the New Achilles
● Alexander carried the Iliad with him where-ever he went.
● Achilles’ non-participation in Funeral Games of Patroclus (though he was the best)
stands as a model for Alexander’s non-participation.
● Alexander’s private games for Achilles○ Plutarch Life of Alexander, 15.4:
● Then, going up to Ilium (Troy), he sacrificed to Athena and poured libations to the
heroes. Furthermore, the gravestone of Achilles he anointed with oil, ran a race by it
with his companions, naked, as is the custom, and then crowned it with garlands,
pronouncing the hero happy in having a faithful friend while he lived, and after death,
a great herald of his fame (i.e.Homer).
Alexander as the New Achilles
Friedrich Nietzsche, “Homer’s Contest”:
“Thus the Greeks, the most humane men (Menschen) of ancient times, have in
themselves a trait of cruelty, of tiger-like pleasure in total destruction: a trait, which in
the grotesquely magnified image of the Hellene, in Alexander the Great, is very plainly
visible, but which however, in their whole history, as well as in their mythology, must
terrify us who meet them with the flabby idea of modern humanity. When Alexander
has the feet of Batis, the brave defender of Gaza, bored through, and binds the living
body to his chariot in order to drag him about exposed to the scorn of his soldiers, that
is a sickening caricature of Achilles, who at night ill-uses Hector's corpse by a similar
trailing; but even this trait has for us something offensive, something which inspires
Alexander, Medism, and Performances at Court
● Medism = When a Greek adopts Persian customs
● 325 BCE: Alexander arranged a “show” competition –
● Koragos a Macedonian Warrior vs. Dioxippos an Olympic Victor in Wrestling in 336
● Koragos dressed as Ares, Dioxippos dressed as Heracles.
● Dioxippos defeats Koragos
● Alexander was upset at the loss of the Macedonian. Later Dioxippos is framed for
● Ashamed, Dioxippos commits suicide.
● Alexander’s specatcle competition similar to earlier Persian examples, i.e. Poulydamas
of Skotousa fighting Persian immortals in show competition for King of Persia.
● Negotiation between Greek Sport and Persian (and later Roman) Spectacle.
Spectacle of Royal Power: Imperial Hunting
● Reliefs of Lion Hunt from the Palace at Nineveh for Assyrian King Ashurbanipal:
Symbols of Royal Power (5th Century BCE)
Reconstruction of Royal Lion Hunt Above tomb of Philip II, ca. 330’s BCE
Alexander would engage in Lion Hunts during campaigns as a demonstration of his
● Krateros dedication at Delphi presented Bronze images of Alexander’s Lion hunt with
● Krateros (general of Alexander)
● (cf. Plutarch Life of Alexander 23.2-3)
‘Tomb of Philip II’ at Vergina
Alexander becomes a God at Olympia
In Egypt, Alexander was declared Pharaoh of Egypt, Son of Ra and Incarnation of
Alexander traveled to the oracle of Amun-Zeus. The High Priest of Amun addressed
him “Welcome Son of Zeus!” (According to Plutarch, this could have been a translation
At the Olympic Festival of 324 BCE, Alexander Proclaimed that the Greeks should
worship him as a god.
Coin depicting Alexander the Great As Heracles
Aftermath of Alexander: The Hellenistic Era
● Alexander’s Empire Was Divided between Major Hellenistic Kings 306-220 BCE
○ Macedonia: Antigonids 319-301 BCE, 294-287, 276-168 BCE
■ (Antigonus I- General of Alexander)
○ Western Asia: Seleucids 301-63 BCE)
■ (Seleucus 1- General of Alexander)
○ Egypt: Ptolemies 320-30 BCE
■ (Ptolemy I – General of Alexander)
○ Thrace: Lysimachus 323-281 BCE
■ (Alexander’s Bodyguard)
Hellenization → Adoption of Greek language, writing, and customs in conquered
Iso-Games, Gymnasia, Ephebic Training in the Hellenistic Era
● “Iso-Games”: Cities throughout Hellenistic Empire established their own games and
sent out embassies asking other city states to recognize the games. Example. Soteria
Festival for Aetolians, established IsoPythian Musical contest and IsoNemean athletic
○ “Iso” means “equivalent to” so IsoPythian = equivalent to Pythian Games.
Gymnasia were established throughout the Hellenistic Kingdoms
● Not just centers for physical training
● Elite social centers, schools for citizenship, and places of cultural legitimacy
● Greeks abroad distinguished themselves from non-Greeks as part of “gymnasium
Ephebic Training: Ephebe = Male Youth
● Athletic and Mental Education as a form of elite socialization.
● Those not part of the “gymnasium class” were “apalaistroi” = men without a palaestra
Ptolemaic Egypt: Hybrid Sport and Spectacles
● Ptolemy I of Egypt and Queen Berenice I both had chariot victories at Olympia.
● Ptolemy II – established the Museum and Library at Alexandria (largest collection of
Greek works in the ancient world), Gymnasium of Ptolemy in Athens, and palaestra
and gymnasium at Olympia.
● Ptolemy II establishes Iso-Olympic Ptolemaia Festival in 282 or 279 BCE
● Ptolemy II and his Sister/Wife Arsinoe won Olympic victories in chariot racing and set
up victory monuments and cult of royal household at Olympia
Ptolemaic Egypt: Commemorating Female Victories
● Berenike II, queen of Ptolemy III won chariot races in 248 at Olympia, as well as
victories in Nemean Games and Isthmian Games.
Callimachus’ “Victory of Berenike II”:
To Zeus and Nemea I owe some gift of thanksgiving,
young woman, the sacred offspring of the sibling gods,
our . . . victory-song about your horses
For recently there came from the land of cow-born Danaυs,
to Helen's small island, and to the Pallenean seer,
the herder of seals, a golden message:
that near the tomb of Opheltes, the son of Euphetes
they ran, by no means . . . of charioteers in front
with their breath . . . but running
like the winds, no one saw their traces(?)….
Ptolemaic Egypt: Commemorating Female Victories
Posidippus of Pella (Ancient Epigrammatic Poet)
AB 78:
Tell of my glory, all you poets, ... to speak of what is well known, because my fame has
an ancient lineage. My ancestor Ptolemy [I] won [an Olympian victory] with his chariot
when driving his horse at the stadium at Pisa, and so did my father's [Ptolemy II
Euergetes] mother Berenice [I], and again my father won, a king who took his name
from a king. Arsinoe won all three chariot races in one contest … the holy family of
women... a maidenly...
saw these [glories] in chariot racing from one house and the prize-winning children of
children. Sing, Macedonians, of the crown Berenice [II] won with her successful
Ptolemaic Egypt: Commemorating Female Victories
Posidippus of Pella (Ancient Epigrammatic Poet)
AB 79:
A virgin the queen with her chariot, aye, Berenice, carries off all victorious crowns for
chariot-racing at your games, Nemean Zeus. By the speed of her horses, her chariot
left many charioteers far behind, whenever she turned; her horses running under the
rein [like meteors] came first before the Argive judges.
Kyniska- First Female Olympic Victor
Statue Base of Kyniska’s statue at Olympia:
"Kings of Sparta were my forefathers and my brothers. Victorious Kyniska with her chariot
drawn by swift-footed horses erected this statue. I assert that I am the only woman in all
Greece who has won this crown. Made by Apelleas, son of Kallikles."
Ptolemaic Egypt: Commemorating Female Victories
AB 87 (XIII 31-34)
When we were still the horses of Macedonian Berenice,
people of Pisa, we brought her the crown of Olympic victory,
which has well-known fame, and with it
we took away the ancient glory of Kyniska in Sparta.
Spectacle in Ptolemaic Egypt
Grand Procession through Stadium at Alexandria, which included exotic animals and
statue of Alexander the Great being pulled in a chariot by Elephants foundation for
later spectacle processions and performances in Rome.
● Efforts of Ptolemies show a syncretizing (mixing) of Greek and Egyptian elements into
single culture.
Hellenistic Olympia
● Through benefaction of Hellenistic Kings, building program expanded at Olympia
(Paleastra, Gymnasim, Leonidaion- Athlete’s quarters at Olympia, and monumental
● Olympia perhaps also expanded its criterion for participation (no longer have to be
Greek, but merely speak Greek)- in order to accommodate more international appeal.
● Increased participants at Olympia from Asia Minor, Egypt, and North Africa.
● Not a Greek but a Macedonian, north of Greece
● Absorbs Greece and other tribes forming a coalition of these people
● Invades Persian empire which stretches from modern day Turkey to Pakistan, Iran,
Iraq etc
● Overthrows Persian king and takes the Persian empire and turns it into his own empire
and then he dies from over drinking
● His successors after him fragment his empire
○ Unable to get along with each other
● 3 major empires that emerge from Alexander’s very brief but colossal empire
● The people who followed him was in his inner circle, call them his successors
● As he marched across the Persian empire, he wanted to create a new universal
empire and wanted the Greek language and culture to be the glue
● Move people from one region and put them in another region
● Took the time to build cities and set up museums as well as introduce athletics to the
people he conquered
● He is trying to sell the spectacle of athletics – did it from Turkey all the way down to
○ Would pause during his campaign to have athletic competitions in the places
he conquered
● He introduces and hellenism all of these people
● The successors that come after him follow up on this and use Greek as the official
language in the cities that they built
● They want to encourage this because they want to use this again as a common thing
that everyone in their realm shares
Athletics under Alexander
● His attitude
○ His father Philip II, used athletics when he was first trying to make a connection
the Greeks
Used athletic competition to make himself appear more Greek to the
Greeks, he was trying to draw the Greeks into his fold to make himself
acceptable to them
■ Managed to convince the Olympic organizers to let him compete in the
■ Won in an equestrian event (4 horse chariot)
■ Set up a statue and building called the Phillipion
● Important to him because to have statues at the Olympics was a
good public relations move
○ Alexander opposed his will on the Greeks
■ Alexander didn’t see athletics as a defining attribute of Greeks
■ Alexander would only compete against King”
● “I will only participate in activities with people on my level”
○ When he went campaigning he regularly had events
■ His top people brought with wagon fulls of goat skin so that they could
create a huge tent to run foot races and practice athletics
■ Also brought wagon full of dust and a wagon full of vases and oil
■ Seemed like the soldiers in their off time would compete and train with
one another as athletes
■ Locals were allowed to come and watch
● To impress the local people
■ Alexander NEVER participated tho
● But he ran a footrace with his friends at the Tumulus (grave) of
Achilles (only evidence of him doing athletics)
The Army
○ Historians recorded the events that were held e.g. athletic, musical
○ Musical competitions were never held on the same dates when there would be
a musical competition at the Stephanitic games, only athletic competitions
■ Might be evidence that he was trucking in athletes from Greece and
that these competitions aren’t just soldiers who have an off day but
rather cream of the crop athletes and local people to give them the
best possible show
● Shows that athletics isn’t just a competition to see who’s the
best, but its also an entertainment = spectacle
● Now focusing on the spectators and not solely the athletics
○ Raises the idea that athletics is more than just a competition to see who’s the
best and is now an entertainment
Athletic Spectacle
○ Dioxippus and Koragos
■ Two guys, Dioxippus is a Greek and Koragos is Macedonian
■ Got into an argument on who is the better competitor
■ Don’t know if they were soldiers or athletes shipped in
Had a match and Koragos was in full armor and shield and Dioxippos
was half naked and had a club all oiled up and he won (Hercules lookin
● Dioxippos snapped his spear and pinned him to the ground
■ Alexander and the Macedonians were upset at this result
○ Spectators matter
Athletic guilds
○ Associations, brotherhood, unions
○ Athletic group and their presence appears in the Hellenistic era
○ Demand for athletes from Alexander
■ Guilds would come and help Alexander put on a “spectacle”
Increasing criticism of athletes
○ People are starting to ask what the value of athletes is
○ A Greek commander had an athletic physique and was told he should train
athletics but he said you don’t need to have a good body to be a good soldier
but rather you need experience
○ Alexanders idea that Greek culture might be something that could be sold to
all of the conquered people and would cut across all of their various culture
■ Seems to be true because his successors made Greek the official
language at the court – legal rulings, address the court, make a petition
○ Greek culture became something that everyone accepted in these kingdoms
■ Theaters coming up, cities writing to their king to lend them funds so
they can build athletic complexes, libraries, museums etc
○ In these cultures, you get schools that are similar to Ephibia (2-year curriculum
that was mandatory for someone who wanted to be a citizen) in Greece
■ School you go to so that you can learn about Greek heritage and
training in athletics
■ People who want their kids to get ahead send their children here
■ Similar to fob parents wanting their kids to learn English
● Isostephanitic Games
○ ‘Soteria Games’ in Greece, ‘Nikephoria Games’ (bringing victory) in Pergamon,
‘Italic, Roman, Augustan, Isolympic Games and Festival’ in Naples
○ Now that Greek shit was integrated into the conquered lands, the next logical
sep was to set up Athletic competitions in the Hellenistic world
■ Many organizers, athletes aren’t Greek but they’re doing Greek things
○ Cultures that are imitating the Greeks in so many ways
■ “knockoff” competitions
■ Organizers of these games wanted to make the games prestigious,
lavish prizes, and have the same status as the Stephanitic Games
■ These games wanted acknowledgement from Greek communities
■ Wanted same benefits as the Greek competitions
○ Athletic competitions began to appear throughout the Hellenistic world
■ Hellenisitic = related to Greece e.g. Hellenistic athletes, Hellenistic
■ Non-Greek athletes doing Greek things
■ Competitions are in Palestine, Egypt, Italy etc
○ Iso = equal
○ Iso Stephanitic games = Stephanitic or crown games
○ Greeks would say that if you win at an event you don’t have to pay taxes, get
free meals for the rest of your life, get a statue etc
○ ISO-lympic games, ISO-pythean???
○ Advertised themselves as Isolympic – not only will you get the same benefit as
you would at home but the competitions will be just like the Olympics
■ Pretty much copying the whole competition
■ If you called yourself Is Olympic, it mean you had all of those events but
you can also have other things in addition to it
■ Egypt had an animal parade
Sebesteia Games at Kaisereia Sebaste
● Jewish king set up these games honoring the roman empire
● Jewsh king and roman empire provided the funds to build this complex on the sea
shore but no aquatic game
● Sebestian = holy
Maccabean Revolt
● Jewish high preist was encouraging young people to become Greek citizens, learn the
language, participate in Greek athletics
○ Met with resistance
○ Jews were troubled and disturbed
● Led to a full-scale revolt
Decline of the Olympic Games
● Wealthy Greeks tried to provided funding to keep games running
● Attendance declined, not easy to get to
● Had prestige b/c they were longest lasting games
● Hotels were built in this era with running water and other amenities but it wasn’t
successful because they couldn’t find patrons with enough money or interest to keep
the games going
Perqs for Athletes
● Prize at Olympics was a crown
● When they went back home, many Greek polis would offer something
○ Free meals were most famous and earliest one
○ Taxes wouldn’t need to be paid
○ In Athens you got a large amount of money depending on the event
○ At the Olympics you got anywhere from 1 to 5 years salary
○ You were able to live off what you were allotted
● After athletes retired, they would end up in a paid position related to athletics
○ Kind of seems like a benefit
● As athletics become a lifestyle, it comes under criticism
○ Criticism you wouldn’t find when it was a part of an overall idea of a man of
wealth and they happend to occasionally go to the gym and occasionally enter
○ Athletics is just one part of a full life vs someone who trains every day for one
particular event (and gets benefits for the rest of their life)
● Questioning if athletics is useful – why are people becoming honored/role-models for
doing one activity?
Professionalism in Greek Athletics
● When did Greek athletes become professionals?
○ No Greek terms for ‘amateur’ and ‘professional’
○ Amateur = no salary, no benefits, no contract, no representation, no contact
with professional teams
○ Greek athletes were all professional ??
● Evidence from the Hellenistic Era
● Amateur meant devoted (doing something just for the love of it) in the Greek era but
now it means that you’re not a pro
● Sizeable fees in the Hellenistic era
● In the Classical era you could make a decent living from winning – the most famous
person won 1300 events ‘
● Bribery – one guy agreed to purposely lose and after the match he went to collect
money but the winner didn’t pay him
● We hear about superstitions in this time period e.g. a lucky strigil
Funding for Athletes
● If you’re an athlete you prob have an athletic complex in your polis
● Expenses involved in an athletic career
○ Athletic complexes are free
○ Most competitions are open, no entrance fees
○ Meat diets? Which cost money
○ Athletes need a good trainer
● Managers
○ Manager is funded by some money man
■ Sets the manager up in business and tells him recruit young talent and
they will take a cut of all of their prizes
■ Calls them salesmen
● State funding
● You need a good trainer or you will be at a disadvantage during the Hellenistic era
Trainer and a young boy, bystanders who were watching him training
applauded him and his trainer hit him with a stick and said don’t listen to them.
He said any time the audience applauds you’re probably doing it wrong.
Athletic Unions and Guilds
● Were these unions social clubs or organized associations with legal rights?
○ Seeked official recognition
○ Wrote to kings for recognition
■ No actual benefits except king would write back saying they
recognized them (not official?)
■ Would post the letter to gas themselves and improve social status
● Structure was organized
○ Had a treasury, president, priests (people would be nominated)
○ Hercules was the patron god
○ Best evidence came from gravestones
■ B/c main thing the clubs did was if you died, they made sure you had a
burial and honored you
○ You can borrow funds from local xystos
● Early evidence from the Hellenistic Era
● Structure of later unions
● Services and activities offered by unions
● Xystos = covered track
Chapter13 Early Rome and Spectacle Sport
Roman Pre-History: The Etruscans
● Etruscan Civilization, from ca. 700 BCE- incorporation into Roman Republic in 4th
Century BCE (300’s).
● Transitioned from Chiefdom/Tribal societies to state formation.
● Rome was the first Italic state, but it was inherited from Etruscans.
Etruscan Civilization in Italy
Mining and Trade in metals led to Etruscan Expansion on the Italian Peninsula and
surrounding areas.
540 BCE- Battle of Alalia between Greeks and Etruscans and Carthiginians, near the
island of Corsica. -> New power distribution in the West Mediterranean. Carthage
expanded its influence, Etruscans relegated to northern Italy.
474, Syracuse's tyrant Hieron (Pindar’s Hieron) defeats the Etruscans, the Battle of
Because of power struggles, Etruscans lose influence over the area of Latium and it is
eventually taken over by Romans.
By the 1st century BCE, Rome has annexed all remaining Etruscan territory
Etruscan Sport and Spectacle
● No literary sources remaining, which describe Etruscan sport and spectacle.
● Best evidence are visual images on material objects (vases) and at Archaeological
sites (cemeteries).
● Problem for interpretation of Etruscan Sport using visual evidence:
○ How much do images of Etruscan sport tell us about Etruscan games as they
really were? How much does the purpose for which an object was made
impinge on the fidelity of the representation it conveys?
● Problem of Greek influence:
○ Etruscan visual culture was strongly influenced by Greek models and we must,
therefore, consider the extent to which each Etruscan image reflects that
influence. We must also give thought to the possibility that these images
depart from Etruscan realities in order to appropriate Greek models. This issue
is particularly acute when it comes to sport because it has been argued that
Etruscan sport was heavily influenced by Greek sport.
Etruscan Sport and Spectacle: Greek Gifts and Roman Roots
Influence of Greek Sport on EtruscansThe Fran ois Vase:
- Found in 1844 in an Etruscan tomb in cemetery near Chiusi, Italy.
- Dated to 570/560 BCE
- Depicts Funeral Games of Patroclus
Etruscans did not participate in Panhellenic Games ->
Must have had their own athletic culture, influenced by Greek
Etruscan Sport and Spectacle: Greek Gifts and Roman Roots
● No Etruscan literary account of sports or funeral games, but there is evidence from
material culture.
● Best evidence for Etruscan Sport: Tomb Painting.
● Cemetery at Tarquinia (Monterozzi)○ Contains 6,000 rock cut tombs
○ 200 painted tombs (which include athletic scenes)
Etruscan necropolises of tarquinia
Tombs of the Augurs, ca. 520 BCE
● Painted Tomb located in Tarquinia.
● Called Tomb of the Augurs, because men are
thought to be interpreting bird signs, as a form of
● Also seems to depict Funeral Games
Tombs of the Augurs, ca. 520 BCE
Left Hand Wall
● Two boxers
● Man Running or Dancing
naked athletes → greek influence vs. other performers who are clothed
Tombs of the Augurs, ca. 520 BCE
Right Hand Wall
● Two Wrestlers
● Prizes in the middle (compare with Funeral Games of Patroclus)
● Note- Contrast between Nude Athletes and non-nude observers
Tombs of the Augurs, ca. 520 BCE
Right Hand Wall
● Above Man’s Head was written “Phersu” (Perhaps the Etruscan word for mask)
● Similar depictions found elsewhere “Phersu Games”
● How do we interpret this episode?
● Human Sacrifice?
● Etruscan Origin of Roman Gladiator Combat?
● Etruscan Origin of Roman Exposure to Beasts (damnatio ad bestias)?
● Funeral Ritual meant to spill blood but not kill?
Tomb of the Olympiads Tarquinia
● 6th century BCE Tomb
● Does not necessarily depict the Olympics
● Discovered in Tarquinia in 1958.
● Named not only for depiction of events, but also because of the Rome Olympics of
● Note: Greek Athletics? Athletes not nude.
Tomb of the Monkey at Chiusi 480-470 BCE
Javelin Thrower, Boxers
Horse-Racing, Wrestlers, Trainer/Judge
Note: Nudity not consistent across all events
- shows that the athletic competition was organized
- athletes are wearing a cloth
Non-Nude Athletics: Greek Vases for Etruscans
● Perizoma Group:
○ Greek Vases with naked athletes, with Perizomas painted on them afterwards.
○ Most likely made for export for Etruscan clients.
● Basic Inconsistency in representation: some athletes nude (Tomb Paintings) other are
not (Perizoma Group).
● Why?
Tomb of the Chariots Tarquinia, 500-490 BCE
Etruscan Sport as Spectacle
● Etruscan games were above all spectator sports;
● Intended to please those who watch.
● In the audience we find the ruling classes, decked out with symbols of their power,
enjoying the show; on the field of competition we find the athletes, professionals of
low social standing.
● In contrast to Greece, sport in Etruria was not a privileged locus for status competition
by free men.
● “We do not have a complete picture of Etruscan sport, but it is clear that Etruscan
situation is closer to Rome than to Athens.”
○ See further Bevagna, “Etruscan Sport” in A Companion to Sport and Spectacle
in Greek and Roman Antiquity
Early History of Rome
● Monarchy from 753 BCE - 509 BCE
Early history is debatable. The legends do seem to record accurately that Rome
became a city of outsiders and outcasts and that Roman citizenship was from early
times a legal rather than ethnic status.
Rome’s Kings, according to Roman Tradition:
● Romulus
● Numa Pompilius
● Tullus Hostilius
● Ancus Marcius
● Tarquinius Priscus (Lucumo)
● Servius Tullius
● Tarquinius Superbus
All but one of these kings are foreigners to Rome
● Romulus founded Rome, killing his brother Remus
○ Livy, 1.8.4-7:
Then, so his large city would not be empty, using an old plan employed by the
founders of cities, who gather about themselves a mass of obscure and humble
people, pretending that the earth had raised up sons to them, Romulus opened the
sanctuary in the place that is now enclosed by two groves as you go up the Capitoline
hill. To that place came a crowd from neighboring states, both slave and free, eager for
a fresh start, and that was the first advance in power towards greatness. When he was
not now ashamed of his strength, Romulus added policy to power. He appointed one
hundred “fathers” [the senate], whether because that was a sufficient number, or
because that was the total number whom he could call “fathers”.
■ Legend about Romulus and Remus
■ Challenge each other to develop the city
■ Remus attacks Romulus when he is building the city walls
■ Romulus kills Remus as a result
● Fathers refers to roman senate
Early History of Rome: The Republic
Oligarchy from 509-31 BCE
● Known as time of Republic = Res Publica
● Romans called their government, The Senate and the Roman People (SPQR = Senatus
Populusque Romanus)
○ Governed by an oligarchical body and the people
■ Senate was composed of the wealthiest
○ Class systems
■ Citizens were born into either the Patrician or
■ Plebeian class
■ Equestrians were people who were sometimes even wealthier than
those in the patrician class BUT were not born into this class
■ Elected officials only male patricians and equestrians could be elected
as officials
● Quaestor
● Aedile
● Praetor
● Consuls
2 Consuls- chief magistrates of Rome;
● Presided over the senate; elected yearly
Praetor- (increase from 2-> 8
● commander of army or elected magistrate, ruled provinces
Aedile- (2 pairs)
● office of maintenance of public works Including buildings and festivals
Quaestor- Financial officers
Patricians- Old Ruling Class Families in Rome
Equestrians- Aristocracy, lower than Patricians
Tribune of the Plebs● The tribunes were sacrosanct— had veto power over the senate and were sacrosanct;
No harm could be done to the tribune.
Tribune had protection of the Plebs- the people.
Violence, Ludi, and Mythic History of Rome: The Sabine Women
● Cicero, Republic 2.7.
Roman Festivals and Entertainments
● Early Roman Sport directly linked to Religious Worship: Festivals or Holidays – Feriae
Roman Games = Ludi (from Latin Ludere – “To Play”)
● Chariot Races or Theatrical performances as acts of communal thanksgiving to the
gods for military success or deliverance from crisis.
○ Rooted in religion
Early Chariot Races (Ludi Circensis) were associated by tradition with the foundation of
Rome under Romulus and also with the Etruscan King (or 5th King of Rome) , Tarquin
Violence, Ludi, and Mythic History of Rome: The Sabine Women
Cicero (1st century BCE), Republic 2.7.
And Romulus accomplished all this very quickly; for after founding the city, which by
his command was called Rome after his own name, in order to strengthen the new
commonwealth he adopted a plan which, though original and somewhat savage in
character, yet for securing the prosperity of his kingdom and people revealed a great
man who even then saw far into the future.
Violence, Ludi, and Mythic History of Rome: The Sabine Women
Cicero (1st Century BCE), Republic 2.7.
For when Sabine maidens of honorable lineage had come to Rome on the occasion of
the Consualia (harvest festival) to witness the games [ludi] whose annual celebration in
the circus he had just instituted, he ordered their seizure and married them to young
men of the most prominent families. When the Sabines, thus provoked, made war on
the Romans, and the fortunes of the conflict were various and its issue doubtful,
Romulus made a treaty with Titus Tatius, the Sabine king, the stolen women
themselves petitioning that this be done. By this treaty he not only added the Sabines
to the body of Roman citizens, giving them participation in the religious rites of the
State, but also made their king a partner in his royal power.
● Sabine → neighboring city
● Romulus invited Sabine people to the city of Rome
● Romulus had romans steal/kidnap Sabine women to create families in Rome
● Sabine women in some way agreed with Romulus acts when their king tried to
save them
● Romulus is using violence to get people to participate in the roman
state/incorporate people into the roman state
What does this foundation myth tell us about Rome’s views on the relationship between
violence and civilization? What role does sport play in this foundation narrative?
Origins of Ludi Circensis (Ludi Romani/ Great Ludi): Livy (end of 1st century BCE),
The History of Rome 1.35.7-9
First Tarquinius waged war on the Latins and captured the town of Apiolae. Because
he brought back more plunder than expected from what seemed like a small war, he
put on more extravagant ludi than previous kings had done. It was then that the place
now called the Circus Maximus was marked out. There were separate sections of
seats for senators and knights to watch from, with benches on supports as much as 12
feet from the ground. There were horse races and boxers brought in from Etruria.
These games are still held annually and called the Ludi Romani or the Great Ludi.
● 5th king of Rome is reported to have founded what the romans later called the
Ludi Romani
did so through competition of the previous kings
did so with a clear emphasis on spectacle and the entertainment of the people
raised seating for the audience and imported athletes for the sport
the games of circuits
Chariot Racing at Rome: Circus Maximus
● The Circus Maximus was situated on the level ground of the Valley of Murcia (Vallis
Murcia), between Rome's Aventine and Palentine Hills
● The name Maximus, literally "very large" refers not to the size of the Circus but to its
proximity to the Ara Maxima (very large/great altar), said to have been dedicated by
Hercules on his journey through Italy in mythological times.
● Largest Man-Made structure in the entirety of the Roman Empire
● Accommodated the largest audience: approximately 150,000
● Chariot Races preceded by a sacred procession that paraded through the city streets
and terminated in the Circus Maximus, where it circled the track.
○ Included images of the gods, which were brought to the royal skybox
(pulvinar), which served as their shrine and house, from there they presided
over the games.
Ludi were primarily chariot races and theatrical performances
Chariot races included agon but they were more for the entertainment of those
watching than for yourself
○ Held in the Campus Marchus at first
○ Tarquinius moved them to the circus maximus inside the city state
Maximus → refers to the Aras Maxima the altar near by that was said to be dedicated
to Heracles on his journey through Rome
Largest man-made structure in Rome and could accommodate the largest audience
○ First made of wood → than cement → lastly marble
○ Continuously altered/remodeled
○ Not only a spectacle for the audience but also for the gods
○ The Sacred Procession at the Circus Maximus
■ Ovid, Amores 3.2.43-58
■ (Ovid, love poet, meets his mistress at the circus Maximus)
■ “But now the procession is coming—keep silence all, and attend! The
time for applause is here—the golden procession is coming. First in the
train is Victory, borne with wings outspread—come hither, goddess, and
help my love to win! Applaud Neptune (Poseidon), you who trust too
much in the wave! I will have nothing to do with the sea; I choose that
the land keep me. Applaud thy Mars, O soldier! Arms I detest; peace is
my delight, and love that is found in the midst of peace. And Phoebus
Apollo—let him be gracious to augurs, and Phoebe gracious to
huntsmen! Minerva (Athena), turn in applause to thee the craftsman’s
hands! You country dwellers, ise to Ceres (Demeter) and tender
Bacchus (Dionysos)! Let the boxer court Pollux, the horseman Castor!
But we applaud thee, mild Venus (Aphrodite) and thy children potent
with the bow….
● Talking about meeting his mistress at the race
● A love letter to the games
● Statue of the gods would have been carried in
● People go for entertainment of the races or:
○ Meet up with people
○ Talk to people
○ Probably would have been vendors there
Circus Maximus Reconstruction (at the height of the Roman Empire)
Circus Maximus
Chariot Races preceded by a sacred procession that paraded through the city streets and
terminated in the Circus Maximus, where it circled the track.
- Included images of the gods, which were brought to the royal skybox (pulvinar), which
served as their shrine and house, from there they presided over the games.
Circus Maximus in 1978 CE
Chariot Racing Factions: Firms, Teams, and Fans
● Unlike in Greece, Chariot Racing in Rome became a Team Sport, sometime after 201
○ Chariot Racing Teams = Factions, Factiones
Factions were privately owned and operated businesses, led by private executives
(domini factionum).
● Factions owned all the chariots, horses, stables, and equipment needed for races.
● Chariot Races consisted of four, six, eight or twelve four horse chariots (quadrigae)
● Factions divided into 4 groups, organized by Team “color”: Red, White, Green, and
Blue. (Factions will be discussed in greater detail later in the course)
Differences Between Roman and Greek Chariot Racing
● Roman drivers wrapped the reins round their waist, while the Greeks held the reins in
their hands
● Romans could not let go of the reins in a crash, so they would be dragged around the
circus until they were killed or they freed themselves. In order to cut the reins and
keep from being dragged in case of an accident, they carried a falx, a curved knife.
They also wore helmets and other protective gear.
● Another important difference was that the charioteers themselves, the aurigae, were
considered to be the winners, although they were usually also slaves (as in the Greek
Greek Gods/Roman Gods
Reading notes
● Instead, the Hellenistic age should be approached as an exciting new age of
expansion and adaptation, of interactions and transitions, first between Classical
Greece and the Near East, and then between the Hellenistic world and Rome.
● Hellenistic age spread sporting Greeks and new urban centers throughout the Near
Eastern world.
● If historical, the story may reflect an Elean ethnic bias against their cousins to the
northeast, but it may have been legitimizing propaganda as Alexander sought to
reinforce his succession by claiming Greek status and (almost) an Olympic victory.
● Macedon was not oblivious to mainstream Greek culture and sport, and Philip II was
not the first to use a Hellenizing policy.
● Masterfully Machiavellian, King Philip II (359–336) used sport and sanctuaries to
legitimize his extension of power over Greece.
● Philip did not ride or drive the horses himself and he probably was not even at the
games, but he knew the value of indirect victory for interstate public relations.
● fifth-century Sicilian tyrants, Gelon and Anaxilas, publicized their Olympic equestrian
wins with coins and odes, Philip used Olympic equestrian competition as a display of
wealth, power, and Greekness.
Alexander on athletics:
- His tutor Aristotle criticized excessive athletic training (e.g., Pol. 5.4), which inspired an
assumption that Alexander disdained athletics, but his alleged criticisms have a long
literary pedigree.
- Presenting Alexander as antagonistic to “the whole race of athletes
Sport and Spectacle in the Ancient World
- Plutarch's characters reflect the aristocratic Roman bias that virtuous men should be
patrons and producers who appreciate skilled artisans (e.g., musicians, Per. 1.5), but
they should not display themselves as occupational performers of music, dance, or
- ex. Plato reject contemporary athletic training for the soldiers of his ideal state,
claiming that athletes pursued diet and exercise “for the sake of strength alone
- Plutarch also places Alexander in a line of prominent critics of the value of specialized
athletic training for warfare
- Plutarch’s anti-athletic anecdotes may owe something to Alexander’s self-image as a
new Achilles, the swift-footed runner but noncompetitor in his games for Patroklos.
- Alexander supposedly disliked athletics, but he showed respect for athletes and
athletic traditions. → the only house he spared was that of Pindar.
- Alexander also allowed his generals to bring their interest in gymnasium practices and
contests to the east with them.
- Whatever his true feelings about sport, and however self-absorbed and ungrateful to
Philip, Alexander continued Philip’s politicization of the Panhellenic games and
sanctuaries. In addition to completing the Philippeion, Alexander had his decree
ordering the return of political exiles read at Olympia, as well as a decree ordering
divine honors for himself
He and his successors consciously used athletic contests and celebrations as
political devices.
An eclectic policy on games
- Excluding drinking contests, hunting, and ball games, Alexander never competed in
formal athletic or equestrian contests, but during his campaigns, he organized several
sets of games, both formal and informal, often in eclectic combinations, from musical
contests to torch races
What did Alexander the great conquer and with whom?
Brings the hellenistic era from the north of greece
Absorbs greece and other tribes to create a army that will overthrow the
Persian empire
2. What happened and how did alexander die?
He died from drinking
After his death his successors messed up his empire
3. What are the people that follow alexanders greatness called?
4. What were alexanders two main goals?
To create a unified empire
To give them a Greek background
5. Define Hellenization
To make something greek in form of character
6. What was the official language of the persians and all conquered land?
7. Define Homogenization E.x. of who he conquered
Forming into one culture E.x. One way they did this was through athletics
Alexander and Athletics
8. Who was Phillip, what did he do for athletics
This is how he tried to connect with the greeks
Done through the creation of competitions
Created Statues and buildings for them
9. How did alexander jab at athletics?
By saying what did they do in the war against the persians
10. What did they bring in the wagon for competitions
Goat Skin
Oil for athletic purposes
11. Spectacle
The focus on the spectators instead of the athletes
12. What is an athletics guild? (3 names)
Known as association, brotherhoods or unions
greeks called it a brotherhood
hellenistic period
Creates an industry or business out of it
increases criticism of athletics
13. What is a Ephebeia?
This is a two year curriculum that is manditory for greeks to become a greek
Education in athens
Read Homer
Greek History
Greek Drama
14. Isostephanitic Games
Athletes and organizers arent greek but are like greeks
Nikephoria Games in Pergamon
2. Italy, Roman, Augustian, Isolympic games in naples
3. Soteria games in Greece
Wanted the knock off games to have the same status as the Stephanitic
15. What is the Sebesteia Games?
Located at Kaisereia Sebaste
Well preserved site
Sebesteia means in honor of Caesar
But is setup by the jewish king (means someone to be honoured)
Got Iso Stephanitic status
Best example of a local person trying to get into mainstream greek culture
16. Maccabean Revolt
A jewish high priest was pushing/punishing the jewish people and it lead to a
king came down and was beat
resitance from the greek
triggered by the growth of athletics and being naked in public
17. Why did the Olympic Games Decline?
For many reasons: It did not have great facilities
Other games had cash prizes instead
It was not in an ideal location
They were not as popular as other games
Always hard to find a wealthy greek to run the games
18. Olympic Prizes
Only a Crown
When you went home you would be offered other goods like:
In athens a lump sum
You could earn anywhere from 1 to 5 years salary
19. What was put on tombstones?
Athletes would say they were the manager of this or advisor of this due to the
Olympians continued on their career in a payed position
20. What are Detractors
As athletics became a lifestyle it comes under criticism that it wasnt an ideal
lifestyle it was only one part of a full life at this point they would come under
criticism because of getting honoured for only a single thing
The doctor said athletics dont have the same value as balla games due to
promotion of them
21. When did Greek athletes become professional?
There is no greek term for amateur or professional amature means someone
who does something for the love of it
All greek athletes were professional due to they getting monetary gain
22. Alexander I
King of Macedon
23. Why was Alexander I prevented from competing in Olympic Games?
Because non-Greeks were not allowed to participate
24. Alexander I proved his descent from Argos and
tied for 1st placfe in stadion foot race
25. King Archelaus
Olympic and Pythian Chariot Race Victor in 408 BCE
26. How did Philip II of Macedon commemorate his victory?
With coinage depicting his victories
27. When was Philip II victor at Olympia
Keles: 356 BCE
Tethrippon: 352 & 348 BCE
28. Because Olympia is a Panhellenic Site, the Philippeion is meant to
commemorate Philip II uniting Greece
29. Why does Philip II indicate that he is worthy of heroized status as "King of Greece"?
The Philippeion is positioned beside the Pelopeion (Shrine of Pelops)
30. In Egypt, Alexander III was declared
Pharaoh of Egypt
31. Alexander III travelled to the oracle of Amun-Zeus where…
The High Priest of Amun addressed him "Welcome Son of Zeus"
32. At the Olympic Festival of 324 BCE
Alexander III proclaimed that the Greeks should worship him as a god (while
still living)
33. Iso-Games
Games equivalent to Sacred Crown Games performed throughout Hellenistic
34. Gymnasia were established throughout
the Hellenistic Kingdoms
35. Gymnasium Class
Establishing elite Greek social identity through "gym membership"
36. Ephebic Training
Training youths as a means of Greek socialization within the Empires of Egypt,
Persia, etc.
37. Ephebe
male youth
38. Ptolemy II establishes Iso-Olympic Ptolemaia Festival in
282 BCE
39. Ptolemy I and Queen Bernice I both had
chariot victories at Olympia